Level mode help and trainer power fluctuation


After my struggle with the 4DP full frontal in level mode, I decided to try most of the sufferfest workouts in level mode, mainly just to get used to it. The objective was to understand which level and gearing I should be in, while maintaining optimal (or recommended) cadence and reaching the desired power for each workout.

I am a novice/noob rider, so excuse me if im asking noob level questions or if this has been answered somewhere previously. Also sorry about the long post.

Step 1: Determined the level i should be on per SUF Support Tips: All about Level Mode. With my very low novice level FTP (160 and NM 800) Level 0 or 1 seems to work fine. Experimented with higher levels but power change between gears too high for FTP level workouts.

Step 2: Figure out which gear i should be for each interval target at the Suf. recommended cadence. Output: Consistently failed

i. Low recovery power and cadence target: Not much of an issue. Can be within 10% of the target power while being at recommended cadence.

ii: Steady Power targets close to FTP (just below, at or above FTP): Select a gear which i think will reach the power at the recommended cadence. This is ok most of the time. At first there is surge and then power drops and steadies. This is understandable and power smoothing is doing its thing. Thereafter, with a cadence within 5 rpm’s of recommended, the power keeps fluctuating in a range of 75-100 watts or more. Pedaling is as smooth as I can manage but power keeps jumping all over the place. I dont chase the power but just try to keep pedaling steady. At the end of the interval I have no idea if I have met the requirements of the interval.

iii. Short intervals above FTP (AC/MAP type workouts): These are shorter intervals lasting maybe a min or less. By the time Im in gear and at cadence the interval is over. Massive fail. Now i try to be in the gear and at the cadence before interval starts. Hit and a miss mainly because power surges way above what im supposed to and drops way below in such a range that the purpose of the interval is defeated. Worse is when this type of short surge is in the middle of an FTP type interval. Throws everything off track. Maybe level mode is not suited for this type of interval?

iv. Very short intervals (NM type workouts): These are ok. Since the interval is short, a burst of power seems to meet the target.

Advice requested:

  1. I understand level mode inherently will have power fluctuations. What is the range (in %) that i should expect if cadence is within 5 rpm’s and steady pedaling? Eg: Yesterday power was in 120’s at lower end and 230’s at higher end when im trying to be at 160 for a 4.5 min interval. Cadence steady between 93 and 96 rpm. Average power for the target 160W 4:30 min interval is 164W. Power smoothing is on. Tried it with off as well. No use. No, I did not stand at any point in the workout. Here’s a pic of the interval.

  2. Is it my trainer? I use a wahoo kickr core and it is calibrated regularly. The room is air conditioned at the same temperature every time i workout. (is there some way of sharing the workout file/link here?) Here’s a pic of the entire workout.

  3. Any advice on gear selection? Im usually in the small ring in the front as the large ring has a bigger jumps in power between each gear.

  4. Any advice on timing of gear selection and cadence esp. for AC/MAP type workouts?

Thank you in advance!

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If you’re on Level mode, play with the gears so that you can find an adequate cadence for your current effort’s target.

I.e: if it’s a short sprint with say 80% of your NM, since it’s a short thing you might want to switch to a higher gear. I normally sit confortably with gears in the middle for most workouts (on the rare times I use Level mode)… however on a sub FTP effort you might wanna dial back to a lower gear (somewhere in the middle of the cassette, depending on your front chainring), so that you’re not spinning too fast, but also not putting more energy than necessary in each pedal stroke.

it takes a while to get used to, using level mode will make your power look like you’re all over the place. A trick for those moments where you’re seeing a power target changing soon, start changing gears for it and/or adjust your cadence too.

For a reference, this is how The Team Scream looks for me on Level mode (Follow Santiago on Strava to see this activity. Join for free.

) Power is still all over the place.

As you get more training and get better at your pacing and playing with gears in Level mode - as you become one with your bike and your trainer, if we wanna get philosophical- You will vary less and less on a given day (And given that you’ve been resting well enough as the following pictures show: First one is post ToS 2020, second one is just over a 10 days later, could not finish.

Angels just after I broke my trainer (So I was forced to use Level mode)

vs couple of days after, when it was simply not my day


What is the range (in %) that i should expect if cadence is within 5 rpm’s and steady pedaling?

Depends on your current gear selection, “speed” and the power curve of your trainer having had an Elite Rampa before and a Kickr Core now, I can assure you that those are different, non linear and painful :slight_smile:


It is hard to always hit power and cadence on level mode. Sometimes you have to chose between either power or cadence. Check out this blog post as a guide:


Also, when on a dumb trainer, level mode, or even on a smart trainer, power will never be perfectly smooth, and that’s ok.

For AC /NM sprints, I typically spinn up 1-2 seconds before, then switch to the big ring, and then go as hard as I can. I don’t worry about exceeding the lower power targets just before the sprint and do not worry about the cadence when hitting the AC/NM power target, I just go as hard as I can, and am not really able to look at whether I am hitting the power targets either for the very short sprints (10s or less).

For MAP sometimes it works to go from small to big ring, other times (eg Butter) it makes more sense to switch up a few gears. I often overshoot the MAP target initially for a few seconds, then slowly adjust. Other times , it’s more of a ramp and I inch up to the target. That depends on how long the interval is.

I figure, if you are with in 5% of the target you are getting most of the benefits (I know there is literature on that, but forgot the specifics).

Most importantly, have fun and don’t stress too much about it.

Good luck!


Hi @abhi4121 !

Can you submit a help request so that we can get a better look at your data and the trouble that you’re having?

Click here to submit a request


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Thanks for the detailed explanations and your workout charts. I will continue using level mode and hopefully over time i will get more proficient with it. Much appreciate your advice!


Thanks for the advice! Sometimes it gets confusing which one to aim for, power or cadence or just change the gear. I like your suggestion to go hard as I can for the duration of the interval and forget about chasing numbers. The sufferfest link is very helpful. I can see which workouts are ok to do in level and which in ERG mode and when to use RPE rather than obsess with the target.

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Thanks Therese! I have submitted a request.

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There is a thread somewhere where it is mentioned that WiFi repeaters or hubs can effect your trainer setup. I had some issues where the recorded and displays power was all over the place. Switching off a repeater that I had nearby made things a lot more stable. I had a short thread on this, I’ll see if I can find it…

was what I was talking about.

Sorry, I’m on my phone and I’m not sure how to link to this correctly.


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